Sanders' Strong Showing In New York Matters


Hillary Clinton's win in New York's primary race April 19 only cements what has been looking more and more likely for the past few weeks: She is the front-runner of the Democratic race and will eventually be chosen the party's nominee.

The basic fact of the matter is that Clinton has a near insurmountable lead in pledged delegates and 'superdelegates' over her rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.  And after New York, Clinton has expanded her popular vote lead over Sanders to nearly 3 million votes.

Sanders' loss in New York pretty much ensures that any decision of his to stay in the race is for symbolic and ideological purposes only, as there is simply no mathematical chance of him becoming the nominee at this point.  Compared to polling averages leading into the primary this week, Sanders actually under-performed based on polling data from RealClearPolitics.

And yet, as disappointing as Sanders' showing in New York may have been for his supporters, it was not overly dismal and did not change the trajectory of the race significantly.  According to polling results from The New York Times, Sanders still managed to win 106 delegates in the race.  Clinton won 139, and in doing so furthered the delegate gap between her and Sanders ever so slightly.  But it was hardly a blowout win for the front-runner, and leaves Clinton with a careful reminder that she will need to court Sanders' supporters following the party convention in Philadelphia this summer.

Sanders should not yield to calls for him to drop out just because Clinton's candidacy is 'inevitable' now.  Voters in plenty of states which have not held their primary contests yet would still love to cast their vote in support of Sanders, even if he does not have a mathematical shot at victory anymore.  He needs around 58 percent of the remaining 2,400 or so delegates who have not committed to either him or Clinton, which seems unlikely.  But it is less unlikely that he can narrow down this figure and gain more support in upcoming contests like Pennsylvania and California.

The repeated strong showings by Sanders during the primaries shows that there is a strong and growing market for a progressive alternative to Clintonism and the centrist, 'pragmatic' politics which the Clintons have always strongly championed.  

New York is no exception to that general characteristic of Sanders' supporters, with Sanders ultimately taking 42 percent of the Democratic vote there.  No, it was not as close a race as Illinois and Massachusetts were, and New York did not give Sanders a surprising, momentous victory like Michigan did.  

But it almost certainly reveals that the "Sanders surge" has not ended and Democrats remain divided on what they believe their candidate should represent.  That internal party battle is taking place right now.

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Sources: The New York Times, US News & World Report / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr

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